This hill’s nearby.


Bombing downhill took a while to master. It’s all in the forward standing foot, the micro-balancing act it must make continuously. And only time, trial, and error establish it. At first, I’d always drift right as I kicked with my back, right, leg, pushing the pavement behind me as my leg swung from front to back and continuously having to stop short and re-adjust straight. One stretch in front of a mysterious U.S. Post Office building on W. Grand Ave., just west of Telegraph Ave., right before you run into the east edge of Downtown Oakland marked by the intersection of West Grand Ave. and Broadway Ave., the area known as Uptown, where an end-burst of cool businesses flame before Auto Row takes over and a stretch of smaller dives and various KFC-like franchises take over east all the way to the commercial end of Broadway at 51st St. The intersection glows with Plum Bar, much-touted, Farley’s East, of course, Pican, an interesting Oakland bougie black deep-South upscale joint with some fancy-ass hotdogs they serve at the bar with some South-staple relish, Ozumo, an imposing sushi bar with decorative, full 64-ounce bottles of sake lining the windows and handmade, wall-sized, ocean-sweep-feeling artwork by an American, white, Kyoto-based friend of mine, I’ve never dared set foot into, a nondescript, never-visited-by-me (maybe twice) Starbucks, and the anchor of them all Luka’s, whose West Grand-facing windows throw its always jacked-seeming, loud bar crowd scene into the Broadway/Grand intersection all night, where the bartenders anchor the Oakland bar world, seeming to be the most grounded of all the floating, ephemeral cocktail culture that is invading the “Brooklyn of the Bay.”

A few blocks west of that ill-defined Post Office, my friend Nar was walking home one night with a big friend of his and got mugged at gunpoint. Saw him earlier in the night, and hearing him recount it later, a gunmetal slight acidic taste hit the roof of my mouth.

Anyhow, that stretch, that passes by the non-public U.S. Postal Service outpost – Asian postal employees, in uniform, coming and going all day and night present minor obstacles. The road has road-direction-parallel grooves here, periodically, and a lot of kicked up gravel, that jumps the board’s wheels microsegments to the right and to the left and sometimes just halts a front wheel altogether in a temporary guttural-sound-producing stall-drag.

The realizations of boardwork come in stages, like learning to lean back and semi-jump when you come across cracks in the pavement, which are many in Oakland. The board gives a deep crack as the wheels temporarily lodge, hit the grooves hard, but the jump and lean keep the board moving, instead of stopping short. It’s this jarring, the rattling crunch of the rough road underwheel, that loosens all eight of the lock nuts holding the trucks in place.

Turning the board over at the commercial headwaters of Claremont Ave. (exactly where the guys in the video above end up on their crazy-ass ride) left one of the bolts in the curbside grass growing in the soil built from tangled, backed-up and now composted eucalyptus leaves that had collected there. Found the bolt, put it in and then bombed downhill, listening to, and feeling, the teeth-chattering rattle of the loose bolt and the other seven loosening ones.

It was a four-mile ride home and was rough going until MacArthur Blvd. (which passes by Mosswood Park, fyi) and its smooth road, ready for riding. It turned into smooth West Ave., which turned into smooth Market St., after a brief wiggle on San Pablo Ave. That whole path took about 30 minutes. Ok, enough of the nothing-minutiae.